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First Aid
By Fit of Pique

Sequel to Keeper

Pairing: Spike/Xander
Summary: While helping rescue Xander from the school basement, Spike recovers a memory.
Story notes: Spoilers through First Date
Rating: PG-13 (?)
Disclaimer: All hail the mighty Joss, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, and revered affiliates.
Acknowledgment: To saussy, the hardest-working beta in fandom.

The first thing I notice when I burst into the basement is the scent of blood hanging heavy in the air. The boy’s blood. Christ, I can almost taste it. I glance over and see Xander hanging from the torture wheel, bleeding from a wound in his stomach, his face contorted in pain. The tantalizing aroma of his fear and adrenaline surrounds me and fragmented memories of that night – the night Xander found me in that bar, the night the Scoobies sussed out I was killing again – slam into me with the force of a bloody freight train. I knew Harris had stopped me from taking another victim, but I didn’t recall the specifics. Just him pulling me back to myself and out of the bar, then the knowledge of fresh blood on my hands – the images of my crimes flipping through my mind like a stack of keepsake photos, tearing at the edges of my already tattered sanity. More bloodshed. More death. More darkness pulling at me from every direction and trying to drag me under. But he was kind. And God knows there was never any love lost between us, but there it was.

At the time I dismissed it as pity, an automatic response to the pathetic spectacle I was making of myself. But now there’s this memory – the irresistible smell of Xander’s lust laced with a hint of fear as he pulled me to him. His hot, wet mouth opening to mine, our tongues twining and tasting, and the salty-sweet tang of his blood in my mouth, sliding down my throat and making me warm and alive and wanting. His hand cradling my neck gently while we thrust fiercely against one another, hard and hungry and so fucking necessary. How could I have forgotten this?

I have to force my legs to move as the demon that Buffy’s fighting turns her attention to me, but I can’t focus and she’s all over me, straddling me, bloody well strangling me. I vamp out, but I can’t throw her off, all I can do is crane my neck to see if Xander’s alright. Wood’s helping him off the wheel, thank Christ, and I finally manage to kick the demon bitch off me. Buffy’s got her now and she whacks her head off with a hollow thunk and it’s over.

I’m still sprawled on the floor when Buffy leans over me and checks me out. I’m fine. Just peachy thanks. I shiver at her touch and look up at her face, trying to reassure her and prolong the moment at the same time. Pathetic tosser. But all too soon whatever is between us has passed and she’s looking away. Xander is lying propped up against the wall looking like three kinds of shit and bloody hell if he isn’t still making with the funny. Daft git.

I grab his shirt and jacket and help Buffy walk him out to the car. I’ve got my hand on the smooth skin of his back and he’s scorching hot. He’s in pain – I can smell it – but he keeps babbling on in his inimitable Xander way and I want to say something to him to make him stop but Buffy’s talking to him now. Then we’re at the car and I motion to Buffy to get in front. Xander doesn’t look at me as I help him into the back seat. He refuses to go to the hospital since the bleeding’s slowed down and the cut’s pretty clean. After a bit of a power struggle, Buffy relents and we’re on our way.

I fashion a makeshift bandage out of his shirt, folding it neatly with the sleeves spread out on either side, then reach around him and carefully start to tie it in place. I feel him wince, but he doesn’t make a sound. Tough bugger. My chest is brushing against his, my chin grazing his shoulder, and I have to fight the urge to press against him more tightly. I help him put on his jacket and then run my hand gently over the fabric covering his wound, smoothing out the wrinkles and making sure the bandage is snugged up proper. When my hand reaches the waistband of his trousers, Xander breathes in sharply and oh…what’s this? The unmistakable and irresistible scent of arousal. I can hear his heart beating wildly, so quickly it’s difficult to distinguish the rhythm, and his blood rushing through his veins like a river about to overflow its banks. I let my fingers drift lower, caressing the soft skin of Xander’s abdomen and then ghosting under his waistband. I feel him tense and then his hand is on mine. I look up and we’re just staring at each other. His eyes are wide and black and he looks as dazed as I feel. I can’t tell what he’s thinking and it looks like he’s struggling to sort me out as well. It’s too intimate by half, but I can’t look away and his hand is so bloody hot on mine. I can’t help it, I shudder.

“Thanks Spike.” His voice is low and rough and still I can’t stop staring at him. Finally he pulls away and leans back and I can hear him gritting his teeth as he arranges himself against the seat. I wish I could do something. For him. Or to him. I want to. But no, Buffy’s looking over her shoulder to check on him and she’s making soothing noises and petting him and Xander’s reassuring her that he’s fine and then we’re all dead silent for the duration of the drive back to the Slayer’s place. And Wood – the pillock – keeps looking in my direction in the rearview mirror where he very certainly does not see me and he bloody well better get over it.

Finally we’re there and Buffy leads Xander into the house. I follow. The birds are all over the boy the minute we’re in the door and when Red asks him what happened he’s off like a shot, mouth running like a tap.

“What do you think happened? Another demon woman was attracted to me,” he says. And I see him winding up for the punch line. “I'm going gay. I've decided I'm turning gay. Willow, gay me up,” and so on and so forth. Oh bloody hell. I notice he’s looking around at everyone, but he doesn’t meet my eyes. Willow seems a little embarrassed for him, or maybe for herself, but that doesn’t stop him. His mouth is like a ruddy force of nature.
“You heard me. Just tell me what to do. I'm mentally undressing Scott Bakula right now. That's a start, isn't it?”

And then Buffy says something about how he’ll just start attracting male demons and for a second he looks like he wishes the floor would open up and swallow him alive, even though that very thing almost happened not 30 minutes ago. Hellmouth mentality, I guess, where dying at the hands, or mouth, to be more accurate, of a rabid prehistoric vampire is preferable to coming out of the closet to your friends. Do any of them suspect that there may be a measure of truth behind his demented rambling? ‘Cause I sure as hell don’t know what to think. What I do know, if I’m going to be honest, is that I’ve been half hard since I saw him hanging on that buggering wheel all bare-chested and vulnerable and dishevelled. Alright…totally hard, if you’re going to be sodding nosy about it. I know I wanted to lick him and not just to get another taste of his blood, the faint scent of which is still making my mouth water.

Suddenly I realize that for the first time in a very long while, I’m not thinking about Buffy at all. I’m just reliving that bloody kiss. Over and over again in my mind. Bloody hell, that was a fucking fantastic kiss. But why did he do it? Not complaining, of course, it was a right good idea. Still, would love to know what he was thinking at the time. And I wonder for a minute what might have happened if we’d been alone when I bandaged him up. I’m pretty sure I would have done something bloody stupid and I’m almost positive he wouldn’t have stopped me. Oh, this is just great. Just fucking great. Time to get back on track, Spike, you wanker. The conversation is still going on around me but I haven’t missed a thing, of course. Giles is just going on about how serious the situation is and hasn’t everyone seen the bleedin’ flashcards? And that brings my mind hurtling back to the present. I think about what Andrew told me earlier and remember what I have to do.

A long while later, after the Scoobies and potentials are tucked up snug in their beds, I find Buffy alone. She’s sitting on the couch, looking thoughtful and careworn and afraid, her defences down for the moment. She’s still beautiful though. I sit next to her, but not too close. I lace my fingers together to disguise the fact that I’m shaking. I don’t need her worrying about me now – she’s already a dab hand at that. She’s worried about all the wrong things though. Time to fix that. “Did anybody tell you about what happened around here tonight?” I ask.

With a pained look, Buffy replies, “Willow did. The First is back in the mix.”

I don’t look at her. I can’t look at her. “It, uh, it talked to the little boy. Said it wasn't time for me yet.” I turn to her, but now it’s her turn to avoid looking at me. I press on. “I should move out. Leave town before it is time for me.”

I’ve barely finished speaking when she starts to talk. No. She won’t let me leave. She always was a bossy little thing. But this is serious and I can’t let her have her way this time. I mention the principal, another demon fighter for her army, but she just glosses over it, ignores it. Says she needs me to stay because she’s not ready for me to be gone. Bloody hell, Buffy. What the fuck’s she trying to do to me? I can’t read her bleedin’ mind. I’ve tried, and we all know how well that turned out. I need her to give me more, but I’m not stupid. Slow maybe, but not stupid. I’m finally beginning to realize that she just doesn’t have anything else to offer. Not to me, leastwise. But I have to make her see. I don’t want to be in a houseful of people that are at the top of the First’s hit list if I’m going to go all sleeper agent again and start snacking on whoever’s standing closest.

“Buffy, you’ve got to let me go. I don’t want to hurt anyone else. I couldn’t bear it. I can hardly get through the day as it is.”

Her face is closed. I don’t stand a chance, but I keep talking, trying to convince her. “At least let me go back to Xander’s place. I’ll be here whenever you need me, training, fighting, patrolling, researching. Whatever you want. But I can’t stay in this house waiting for the First Evil to turn me back into its personal killing machine. Everyone’ll be safer if I’m somewhere else.”

She’s quiet. Her brow is wrinkled in thought and I’m just waiting for her to say no when her shoulders slump and she sighs. “Alright,” she says, “but Xander goes with you. I don’t want you being alone.”

“Buffy, I’ll be fine.”

She just glares. I decide I had better not push it.

“Alright. You never know…Harris might jump at the chance to get away from all the estrogen for awhile, sleep in his own bed after dossing on the couch all this time, comfy as it is.”

I don’t let myself think too much about the way my stomach is kind of knotted up in pleased anticipation at the thought of me and Harris going back to his place. Just the two of us. Alone together. ‘Cause that’s neither here nor there, is it? The girls’ safety is my only motivation. Well, it’s definitely my primary motivation. And whatever else I’m feeling is just some sort of bollocksed up response to a very stressful night of being worried about stuff – worried about Buffy’s date, worried about Xander – and getting the crap pounded out of me. Again. Christ almighty, I’m becoming a right nancy boy. I blame the bloody soul.